Saturday, November 30, 2013

Every Picture Tells a Story: Readers Digest

Number 23 in a never-ending story: this one by Martin Smith with borrowings from, and comment by, Richard Tillett.

Followers of our EPTAS saga – told here – may be wondering what, if anything, has happened since our last post a year ago; and new readers may be wondering what we are talking about anyway. To save the latter the trouble of wading through all 22 posts to date, and to provide a refresher for the former, there now follows the edited highlights, a digested read, during which we will explain how we have not been completely idle in the last twelve-month.  

In 2010 your intrepid bloggers Richard Tillett and Martin Smith were much taken with the reproduction of an early 19th century painting of six gents playing chess in Hereford, observed by a seventh.

Thomas Leeming's Portraits of the Gentlemen of the Hereford Chess Society
(version exhibited Royal Academy 1818; current whereabouts unknown)
The artist - one Thomas Leeming - was pretty obscure, and the players just as much so. But undeterred, and by fits and starts via several blind alleys, over two long years, we unearthed the full story, including three versions of the picture, a few other works by Leeming, one of them hanging in the unlikely environs of the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, and a web of social and business relations between these gents of Hereford who are the subject of the painting – some of whom, we discovered, were not quite as obscure as all that. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Dear Magnus: A Girl Who Stopped Playing

Dear Magnus is reproduced here with the permission of author/artist Fanou Lefebvre

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Private Eye: Penguin Takes The Biscuit

- - - - -
Private Eye, issue 1354, page 8.

Buy it to read the rest! Or, if you've arrived at the blog after seeing the above in Private Eye, you might like to see:

[Ray Keene index]

[Thanks to Sean Terry, Andrew Bak and Francis Wheen]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Predecessors XVIII: Zukertort-Steinitz 1886


Last week, we were able, due to the assistance of our readers, to demonstrate that Ray's Times column for Monday 3 June 2013 had been plagiarised from Viktor Korchnoi and that Ray had therefore produced plagiarised columns in nine consecutive issues of the Times, from 3 to 12 June.

At least nine consecutive days: 2 June was a Sunday but the Times came out on Saturday 1 June. The chess column annotated the ninth game of the 1886 world chess championship match.

The notes were not, of course, original. They were plagiarised from the first volume of My Great Predecessors

where they appeared on pages 66 to 70.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blue or Red Pill? XXIV

Black to play

No more rook and pawn action from Chennai to report. Nothing going on for me at Hampstead this weekend either. Why don't we have another BORP? ?

The closest I came to the prince of endgames was in the last round. We reached a position where the best my opponent (White) could do was end up a rook down in a rook ending.  That's the kind of rook ending I like! He didn't play that way, though. Actually he didn't play any way. Instead he let his clock run for six and a half minutes and when I pointed out his flag had fallen he said, "OK, I resign".

Some people are funny, ain't they?

Whatevs. With that win I finished 3rd-4th (again) with 3 wins, 1 draw and 1 bye (again). One point away from first, half a point away from a share of second and some cash, so yet another near miss. Still, given the strength of my opposition on the Sunday I'm not too disappointed.  Particularly since (a) I didn't choke the last round this time and (b) that last-round win was my first ever victory against somebody rated over 200 ECF.

Adam, don' t you think it's time to introduce these to your tournaments?

Anyhoo, rook endings.

Up top we have another pair of positions from or inspired by Minev. In both cases Black is to move. In one we see Black about to force a win in Smyslov - Donner, Palma de Mallorca 1967. In the other we have a theoretical draw.


A point for Jan Hein

A game of chance it might be, but this is the win

Rook and pawn Index
BORP? Index

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Those figures of fun again

We had a lot of fun last weekend with Susan Polgar's made-up figure of a billion people watching the chess. On Friday the FIDE match site weighed in with some made-up figures of their own.

Really? Where do you get those numbers from then, FIDE site?

Can you really? Give me more details of this apparent "certainty".

Ah, "estimated". "Certainty" and "estimated" are not entirely compatible concepts, some might say. But still, those look like impressive numbers. Where are they from?

Between 75M and 105M per day. Good Lord.

That might be more than watched the World Cup cricket final.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Meanwhile at the ABBA Museum in Stockholm

I was an impossible case
No-one ever could reach me
But I think I can see in your face
There's a lot you can teach me

You know what Agnetha, love? I rather think there is. If only there was a half decent Scandinavian chesser we could send around to help you out.

Roving Chess Reporter: Dominick Zwolinski
(And, yes, there really is one)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Master of the scene

People everywhere
A sense of expectation hanging in the air
Giving out a spark
Across the room your eyes are glowing in the dark
And here we go again, we know the start, we know the end
Masters of the scene

Feeling mighty proud
I see you leave your table, pushing through the crowd
I'm really glad you came, you know the rules, you know the game
Master of the scene

Take it now or leave it
Now is all we get
Nothing promised, no regrets 

Oh come on. I'm supposed to know a Norwegian band am I?  Or music from this century? I'm 45 - get over it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Crowd pleaser

Been a busy few days for popular chess bullshitter Susan Polgar, who only last weekend was making quite remarkable predictions about the likely number of people watching the world championship.

No sooner was that figure being bandied about (and subsequently, as they say, clarified) on Twitter and Ms Polgar's blog than the Times of India had her making the following somewhat ambitious claim about the possible future of our sport.

Heh, cheerleaders. You reckon? Personally the only connection I can think of between chess and cheerleaders is the, ah, "beer bitches" (not my phrase, I hasten to add, nor one to my liking) who appear at chessboxing, lending it even less dignity than it already lacked - but Polgar definitely seems to thnk it would be a good idea.

No quotes in that passage, I accept, and I would really hate to be accused of misquoting Ms Polgar, but given that the piece has been reproduced on the house blog I assume we can take it that it accurately represents her considered sentiments.

So where are these cheerleaders going to fit, you wonder? On the front of the stage? Will they take out some rows of seating?

Lord no. They're going to be on the pitch, or on the side of it at any rate. We're talking chess in stadiums, Lew. And not just any old stadiums, either. Big ones.

Ho ho. There's something big here, that's for sure, but it may not be the size of the stadia chess is going to be played in.

Still, perhaps this is one of those "new event formats" that somebody else (of equally reliable reputation) was talking about the other day.

Maybe we could combine all these ideas? Throw in live chess with dogs and we're on to a winner. World championship rapidplay chess, live pieces dressed in boxing gear, on stage at Wembley Stadium with dogs as cheerleaders. With a billion people watching.

Make it as silly as you like. It won't be any siller than what Susan Polgar comes out with.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The perceptive reader will doubtless observe

This week, in the parallel universe where plagiarism matters.

Back in the chess universe - or for that matter the Times and Spectator universe, where blatant and egregious plagiarism is quite acceptable - you will recall that by last week we'd established that Ray produced eight consecutive plagiarised Times columns last June, from the 4th to the 12th of the month (excluding a Sunday).

Or rather, at least eight, since although we couldn't be sure that the column for 3 June (covering game two of the 1908 world championship match) wasn't original, it smelled whiffy and so we invited readers to take a look at it and see if they could identify its origins.

They did - and we are grateful to our readers Andrew Farthing and John Cox for their help.

Andrew suggested:

while John provided the text from the 1975 edition, which you can see below.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Blue or Red Pill? XXIII

S&BC Blog 'til I die

So what's winning the World Championship? The Berlin Defence and rook endings, that's what. Clearly Magnus is a reader of this very blog. There's no evidence for that, but it is a fact.

Black to move

Anyhoo, just in case today doesn't bring us four in a row, here's a little action to keep you going. A pair of positions based on diagrams that appear on the last page of Minev's A Practical Guide to Rook Endgames (he, by the way, says he got them from Levenfish & Smyslov), Black has the move in both cases, but there's only one draw.


Half-point saved right here

This is the draw you're looking for

Rook and pawn Index
BORP? Index

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Another figure of fun

Read GQ and lower your IQ, as the old gag goes.

The nonsense above comes from a piece written for GQ by one Jason Henderson, who is apparently editor of Athletics Weekly. If he reckons a billion people are watching Anand-Carlsen, God knows how many people he reckons watched Usain Bolt. Maybe more than the number of atoms in the solar system.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

RRE: Chennai Edition

Get over your disappointment that Anand bottled the Berlin Ending this morning. Here's the entertainment from games four and five.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mo' Money

It's that time of year again.

Readers may recall last November's post on the World Peace and Prosperity Foundation, a scam run by Ray and friends which involved charging punters a lot of money to attend a social event at the House of Lords. The scam being that it was a social event, masquerading as a charity awards dinner, and that charging for such events is in breach of that institution's rules.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Predecessors XVII: Capablanca-Lasker 1921

That was last week, in a parallel universe where plagiarism matters.

In the chess universe last week, we covered Ray's column from 6 June 2013, another of a number of consecutive Times columns in June which Ray plagiarised from elsewhere. 5 June we have already covered, in the third of our series back in July. So what of 4 June?

On 4 June he annotated the fifth game of the 1921 world championship match between Capablanca and Lasker.

This one was plagiarised from the first volume of My Great Predecessors

where it appeared on pages 264 to 267.